Black Rock Solar


Black Rock Solar had a big year and experienced many exciting changes since Burning Man 2010.  We said good-bye to our beloved co-founder and Executive Director Tom Price and welcomed new Executive Director Paddy McCully. Our illustrious crew installed 12 new solar arrays, and we worked with Washoe County high school students to make their schools more sustainable. Black Rock Solar also hosted a Solar Summit during Burning Man and led a renewable energy tour of the playa to showcase the great work being done by members of our community to support sustainability and combat climate change.


In September 2011 Black Rock Solar dedicated our seven millionth dollar of solar since our inception in 2007.  We’ve now built 36 arrays for schools, medical clinics, tribes, and other non-profit organizations across northern Nevada in the past four years.  That adds up to 1.4 megawatts of clean energy, enough power to offset over 3.7 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year.  When we build solar arrays, our partners can put money back into essential services and programming – 1.4 megawatts means more than $6 million over the next 25 years for organizations like the C*A*R*E Chest of Sierra Nevada, N. Lyon County Fire Protection District, the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe, the Children’s Cabinet, the Yerington Paiute Tribe, and Boys & Girls Club.


On Earth Day 2011 Black Rock Solar teamed up with our GREENevada partners to host a Sustainability Competition for Washoe County high school students. We gave away $28,000 in prize money to nine winning schools for students to implement their plans. GREENevada organizations worked with student groups and their teacher-advisors for several months to help them devise ideas and strategies to make their campuses more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

Hundreds of students and their supporters gathered at the University of Nevada, Reno, on April 22nd and presented ideas to their peers and an illustrious panel of judges from the Desert Research Institute, University of Nevada, Washoe County School District, NV Energy, Senator Harry Reid’s staff, and the City of Reno. Ideas ranged from eliminating Styrofoam in the cafeteria to upgrading bathroom fixtures and rooting out the causes of energy over-consumption in school buildings.  Governor Brian Sandoval came by to show his support, and the students were loudly appreciated by everyone in attendance.  We’re planning a northern Nevada Student Sustainability Summit for Earth Day 2012, so stay tuned.


Black Rock Solar hosted a Solar VIP Tour at Burning Man to showcase the wide-ranging renewable energy and efficiency work being done by people on the playa.  Fresh mint juleps were served as we rode around on the beautiful Surly Bird art car visiting camps and art installations powered by solar and wind.  Featured on the tour were Nectar Village and the Alternative Energy Zone, both large camps with hundreds of people sharing renewable energy sources and living on the playa without generators.  Guests were also inspired by the innovation at Camposanto, Mountain Mayhem, and Camp Conduit, as well as the large solar array installed by Snow Koan Solar that powered all 22 Circle of Regional Effigies projects.

BRS held a solar summit at Everywhere Lane on the Esplanade where Burners from all over the country came together to share ideas about renewable energy, sustainability, climate change, and grilled cheese.  The event featured live music by Thee Hobo Goblins, a spectacular DJ set by the solar-powered GOBImobile and delectable sandwiches served fresh by the fabulous Dust City Diner.


Black Rock Solar’s co-founder and fearless leader, Tom Price, held the reins of our organization for three years, helping move BRS from a kernel of an idea to one of the most recognized and respected solar installers in the state of Nevada.  Under his leadership we built over a megawatt of solar for schools, tribes, and non-profit organizations in Reno and beyond.  In September of 2010 Tom moved on to a commercial venture in renewable energy, looking to do even bigger things in solar policy and construction.

In February 2011 Black Rock Solar welcomed our new Executive Director, Paddy McCully.  Paddy came from International Rivers, where he worked tirelessly against big dams, helping indigenous communities identify and implement better alternatives.  Paddy has already made a big difference at BRS, and we’re looking forward to a bright future together.

Submitted by,
Marnee Benson